Theoretical multiplicity for the governance of transitions. The energy producing greenhouse case


Transition management, as a theory of directing structural societal changes towards sustainable system innovations, has become a major topic in scientific research over the last years. In the Netherlands, the concept of transition management was adopted by several governmental agencies as one of the leading principles for steering sustainable development. In this paper we focus on the governance of transitions. The question is if and how transitions towards sustainability can be steered, governed or managed, in particular by governmental actors. We suggest an approach of theoretical multiplicity, arguing that multiple theories will be needed simultaneously for dealing with the complex societal sustainability issues. Therefore, we address the governance question by theoretically comparing transition management theory to a number of related theories on societal change and intervention, such as multi-actor collaboration, network governance, policy agenda setting and adaptive governance. We argue that these related theories put the managerial assumptions of transition management into perspective, by adding other steering roles and leadership mechanisms to the picture. We will illustrate the advantages of theoretical multiplicity by analysing the case of the greenhouse as a source of energy. The energy producing greenhouse can be considered a revolutionary technology, with the potential of turning the greenhouse horticultural sector from a mass energy consumer into a sustainable energy user and producer

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